As the world’s highest-earning stand-up comedian, Kevin Hart is no stranger to criticism. He recently told the Sunday Times that he’s “only had two good movie reviews” out of over 60 films. “It doesn’t bother me,” he shrugged. “I’m no stranger to negative feedback.” And when describing cancel culture in particular, Hart said he “personally [doesn’t] give a [sh-t] about it.”
From J.K Rowling to Dr. Suess, cancel culture has viciously deplatformed countless individuals, companies, and cultural classics for purportedly harboring ‘problematic’ ideologies. Hart tries not to give it too much power, and he’s not a fan.
“If somebody has done something truly damaging then, absolutely, a consequence should be attached. But when you just talk about … nonsense?” Hart exclaimed. “When you’re talking, ‘Someone said [this]! They need to be taken [down]!’ Shut the [f-ck] up! What are you talking about?”
— New York Post (@nypost) June 15, 2021
Hart emphasized that humans are not infallible. “When did we get to a point where life was supposed to be perfect? Where people were supposed to operate perfectly all the time? I don’t understand,” Hart said.
“I don’t expect perfection from my kids. I don’t expect it from my wife, friends, employees. Because, last I checked, the only way you grow up is from [f-cking] up. I don’t know a kid who hasn’t [f-cked] up or done some dumb [sh-t],” he added.
Rather than succumb to the cancel mob, Hart emphasized that he tries to just move on with his life: “I’ve been cancelled, what, three or four times? Never bothered. If you allow it to have an effect on you, it will. Personally? That’s not how I operate. Understand people are human. Everyone can change.”
Hart speaks from experience. After he was announced as the 2019 Oscars ceremony host, allegedly homophobic tweets of his from almost a decade prior resurfaced. Hart eventually stepped down from the ceremony and issued apologies. And he’s been lambasted on various occasions throughout his career.
Hart used the metaphor of jail to emphasize that cancel culture is wrong:
It’s like jail. People get locked up so they can be taught a lesson. When they get out, they are supposed to be better. But if they come out and people go, ‘I’m not giving you a job because you were in jail’ — then what the [f-ck] did I go to jail for? That was my punishment — how do you not give those people a shot? They’re saying that all life should be over because of a mistake? Your life should end and there should be no opportunity to change? What are you talking about? And who are you to make that decision?
Hart doesn’t want individuals to be condemned to eternal, irredeemable cancellation. Instead, he wants society to grant individuals the opportunity to learn from their mistakes.
His message appears to have been lost by many participants in his own industry. When discussing comedy, Hart described the difficulty of predicting the jokes that might later be deemed problematic.
“You’re thinking that things you say will come back and bite you on the [-ss],” he said. “I can’t be the comic today that I was when I got into this.” Since he entered the stand-up industry in the late 1990s, the industry has changed. It’s increasingly censored and filtered. Many of the old freedoms are gone.
Hart also shared that “it’s OK to disagree.”
“It’s OK to not like what someone did and to say that person wasn’t for me. We are so caught up in everybody feeling like they have to be right and their way is the only way. Politics is [f-cked] up because, if you don’t choose our side, you’re dumb,” he said.
Hart might claim to be unaffected by cancel culture, but he’s visibly frustrated by growing intolerance: “It’s a divide. It’s [f-cked] up. But I’m not about to divide. I don’t support the divide! I put everybody in the [f-cking] building. We all come into this building Kevin Hart is in and we all laugh. I bring people together — like it or not.”